Comment of the Day: Clear Lake City Cleans Up Nicely

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CLEAR LAKE CITY CLEANS UP NICELY “Is there a discount [for homes near chemical plants]? Hell yes! And it’s for lots of reasons: 1) real or perceived pollution, 2) real or perceived high crime, 3) low elevations, 4) higher property insurance rates, 5) fewer nearby white collar jobs, and 6) living there indicates to snobs that you’ve got a low social status. Most of the discount is unwarranted, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Look at Clear Lake City; parts of it are only about 1.5 miles from the nearest chemical plants. It was developed upon depleted oil fields and is adjacent to still-active fields. (It was developed by a subsidiary of Exxon!) It’s adjacent to an airport. It has a low elevation. But all that stuff is out of sight, out of mind, and so there’s no stigma.” [TheNiche, commenting on House Shopping in the Chemical Discount Zones: Finding Houston’s Less-Toxic Neighborhoods]

8 Comment

  • Clear Lake City wasn’t developed on depleted oil field land. A quick perusal of the Railroad Commission GIS data shows the oil fields are to the West of Hwy 3 (Friendswood Field, now the Webster Unit), and to the North of CLC.

    The viewer is available at and is a valuable tool for locating old wells, plus it is the best resource I know of for locating the boundaries of land grants

  • CLC = Affordable homes (soon to be cheaper) + quality public schools, thanks for the link Russ

  • I think we need TheNiche’s rebuttal (or mea culpa) in re: his rather flippant comments regarding one of Houston’s finest neighborhoods. Is it built on depleted oilfields or not?

    Particularly since his insights were chosen (for some reason) as “Comment of the Day”.

    Also, yes, Friendswood Development is/was a subsidiary of Exxon (!). Should residents of OTHER Friendswood developments come to a similar conclusion?
    Do tell. After all, it’s a subsidiary of an energy firm….

  • The RRC GIS viewer makes it easy to tell if a subdivision is built on a depleted field. In general, as long as a plugged well isn’t immediately under a home, there shouldn’t be any issues. Any health issues will be related to plumes of hydrocarbons in the subsurface, or to old storage/disposal pits.

    I don’t know how Exxon operated in the past, but there’s a court case I saw on the District Clerk’s site where ExxonMobil is fighting an attempt by a subsequent purchaser of part of the Webster Unit surface to annul the deed restrictions XOM placed on the property forbidding residential development. And, the old location of an Exxon station at 11th and Shepherd, now Dragon Bowl and the mattress store, was sold with deed restrictions prohibiting use as a gas station. That all gives me the impression that XOM is not keen on putting houses in old fields.

  • I wonder if the people buying homes in that new subdivision in Webster know their subdivision was a former brownfield. Surely there’d have to be some sort of disclosure..

  • Mea culpa. But only on that one point. And I’m going to replace that comment with one that points out the number and density of pipelines that traverse all parts of Clear Lake City.

    As for Exxon, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of them and a fan of hydrocarbons. But there was a lot of development that occurred before we even knew that certain substances were carcinogens or otherwise toxic to even think to look for them. And knowing what was going on around and within Clear Lake City before Exxon developed it as a community…I’d rather take my chances elsewhere.

  • As a resident of the area, I’m very interested in your comment about “knowing what was going on around and within Clear Lake City before Exxon developed it as a community…” Are you aware of anything specific that might raise concerns, or is this just a baseless consumer scare?

  • Regarding the RRC GIS Map Viewer, it should not be viewed as 100% accurate. In most instances, a producing well that was abandoned prior to 1940 will not show up on the Map Viewer. Therefore, if a field was produced and depleted prior to 1940, relying on the map alone would inaccurately show there has been no production in a given area.

    However, since most of the fields would have later been re-entered to utilize new technology, using the map would identify more recently-drilled wells.

    One other thing, the map viewer does not account for older flow lines and pipelines that may cross a given area. I can’t say with any certainty at which point the map records reflect gathering lines, but a lot of abandoned-in-place lines are out there that likely no one has any knowledge of.